The Product Manager Career Path: Jobs, Salary, and Responsibilities – Starweaver


Product management continues to gain popularity worldwide due to the competitive salaries product managers fetch and the immense opportunities for growth that come with it. Exciting as it may sound, it’s still a challenging concept to many.

What does the product manager career path entail? How do you know you can make a good product manager? In this post, we’ll take a deeper look at the various product management job opportunities, salaries, and their key responsibilities:

Who’s a Product Manager

A product manager refers to an individual who establishes customers’ needs and the business goals that a feature or product will fulfill. This person also defines success for the product and encourages the team members to work and make the vision a reality.

Product Manager Jobs

Product management is still a pretty new position and thus brings about a lot of confusion regarding job titles and hierarchy. For this reason, it can be a challenge to compare different product management jobs when planning your career path.

However, the product manager career involves the following job titles:

#1. Associate Product Manager

This role is entry-level and is occupied by a person who’s just starting their career. It bears similarities with the Associate Product Manager apprenticeship program offered by top brands like Facebook and Google. The main aim of the Associate Product Manager position is to provide candidates with training and real hands-on experience at the workplace. At this level, you learn how to listen to and understand customers as well as the product market.

Other than product management, associate product managers may also take part in other responsibilities such as account management, admin, and sales. They may also provide support while working under a more experienced product manager.

#2. Junior Product Manager

Although the junior product manager role is also new, the occupant doesn’t need much training like the associate product manager. This individual typically has some real work experience but can be from any background. Junior product managers often operate independently with the company’s product management team under the mentorship and leadership of a more experienced product manager.

#3. Product Manager

This is a mid-level position and requires a wide array of skills and experience. It doesn’t necessarily require a product management background, although the occupant should have experience and skills in leadership, strategy, and communication.

The product manager operates independently and oversees the product development team’s work. You’ll be responsible for the product features, roadmap, and strategy. You’ll also be required to work with other teams such as engineers, product marketing managers to conduct correct data analysis, market research, and forecasting.

#4. Senior Product Manager

The responsibilities of a senior product manager are similar to those of a product manager, only that this is a higher position. Senior product managers often possess a solid product management background by the time they reach this point in the product manager career path. They manage higher-value products, lead junior product managers, and establish liaisons between business leaders and the product management team.

#5. Lead Product Manager

Despite being the newest role, the lead product manager takes charge of a critical company product. This rank can be similar to that of a senior product manager or even VP product, the only difference being they don’t manage other product managers; they remain hands-on and let others manage product management teams.

#6. Product Director

This is the stage in the product manager career path where the responsibility changes to leadership from product management. The product director ensures the product management team runs efficiently. This role requires soft skills since managing people is more difficult than managing a company’s products.

#7. VP Product

This is an executive-level and similar to the director in large companies or the senior-most product person- often the Head of Product- in small firms. It mainly involves managing other company product managers, strategic alignment, and budgeting. In some organizations, the Vice President may also be in charge of profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities.

#8. Chief Product Officer

The highest level of a product manager career is the CPO. This individual reports directly to the company CEO and supervises all product activities. Just like the VP Product, the Chief Product Officer leads in defining the overall product strategy and setting the company’s long-term goals.

Product Manager Salary

The product management career can be rewarding both professionally and financially. The salary scale for product managers differs depending on factors such as experience level, skill set, responsibilities, certifications, seniority level, location, company strength, industry, etc. That said, product managers can earn a salary of between $80,000 to over $150,000 per year.

Product Manager Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of product managers vary from one organization to another, mainly depending on their sizes. In large companies, product managers work together with teams of specialists such as researchers, marketers, analysts, designers, and developers. They get much help in executing their roles but also spend a lot of time aligning these professionals behind a company’s specific vision.

On the other hand, product managers working for smaller firms spend most of their time executing hands-on tasks that come with defining and actualizing a vision.

Generally, there are responsibilities that are common to all product managers, no matter the size of the organization. Some of the most common are discussed below.

  1. Defining the product vision, strategy, and roadmap.
  2. Collecting, managing, and prioritizing market or customer requirements.
  3. Working with engineers, support, marketers, and salespeople to achieve customer satisfaction and business case objectives.
  4. Improving current business ventures and products and developing a business case for new ones.
  5. Proposing product prices or assisting teams with setting them.
  6. Developing product positioning.
  7. Establishing the problems to be solved in the company’s market needs document while prioritizing the problems and justification for the solutions.
  8. Defining the work to be delivered by the product management team and setting the timelines for implementation.
  9. Crowdsourcing, developing, and selecting well-thought ideas that will add value to the product’s consumers.
  10. Prioritizing the product’s features by ranking them alongside the strategic initiatives and goals.
  11. Market monitoring and coming up with competitive analysis.

The Takeaway

Taking a career in product management is the best decision one can take. While starting out, concentrate on acquiring new skills, including analytical, technical, and UX knowledge. Follow that up by developing soft skills such as communication, leadership, and conflict management. Such knowledge and expertise enable you to be visible, advance rapidly in your career, and certainly make a tangible impact on your organization.


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